When mania falls to depression, it is payback time

The flight of mania cannot and will not last.

When mania falls to depression, it is as if the storm clouds have congealed, solidified to dank fat. Time itself goes stale. Depression, swollen and greedy, is a slug-glutton, feeding on the tender green soul. It is payback time.

Sometimes the payback is literal, as people have spent and squandered money, giving it away and racking up debts. When mania turns to depression, the payback is also emotional –a sense of guilt about what sufferers have done, and taxingly difficult repayment…particularly when manic depression has encouraged overspending oneself sexually in impetuous affairs.

Manic depression can’t balance the books, and it struggles in a mercurial seesaw of credit and debt, extravagance and penitence, exuberance and recoil, the endlessly kinetic commerce of Mercury. Manic depression is more usually called by the chilly term ‘bipolar’, a bipedal term; mathematical, binary and wrong.

In mania, the mind dances faster than usual: thoughts are quicker and speech is quicker. It also feels like an increase of ‘quickness’ – of aliveness or vitality – which is paid for in depression later at the price of an increase of deadness. (‘ I felt a Funeral, in my brain,’ as Emily Dickinson wrote.)

  • Tristimania, Jay Griffiths


I started using again. I started smoking weed again, after being clean for two and a half years. Then I found meth, “almost chemically identical to Adderall,” I was encouraged by the dealer’s girlfriend. She and I had shared those pills a few short years ago.

Yes, meth is a stimulant like cocaine and Adderall, all of which I must avoid to keep my manic-depressive mood from elevating into the stratosphere. And the “overspending in impetuous affairs” Griffiths writes about with manic depression was never as evident when I bought a cheap diamond ring and got engaged to an ex-girlfriend in-between snorting lines of meth and drinking any alcohol within arms’ reach.

My days of existence back then seem so distorted and far from any kind of reality. Did I really love this girl whom I had planned to marry? No. She coerced me into buying the ring with the promise of more sex and more hedonistic nights. She and I had a history together that went back a few years. When I first got clean and started to take my prescription meds every day she was the only girl I was with. I was happy in a damped-down, semi-depressed way, and thought maybe this was all life had to offer me. So we stayed together a couple years, one of which involved no sex at all while she recuperated from a surgery.

Many times I would show up at her apartment, drunk, and she would turn me away into the cold night. My heart grew cold for her, and her continuous false suspicions of me “messaging her, texting her!” even though they were friends of mine, eventually led me to seeking someone new to date through an online site.

The girl I met online would be the one who would change my life. But that didn’t happen immediately. I started smoking a half-ounce of weed every couple weeks soon after I met her, and then came my meeting with the meth queen.

Two days before I got engaged to my ex, we had a loud and physically violent confrontation in her apartment arguing about I-don’t-remember-what. I was so high and manic that I picked her up and threw her into a second-floor window with every intention of smashing her though the glass and into the street below. The window held, but not her finger, which I had broken in two places and took her to the ER for treatment. While she was being seen by the ER doctor, I ducked out to my car and snorted some meth off my Macbook. When she was given a scrip for a month’s-worth of Vicodin, I only smiled when she said she didn’t like to take pain pills.

She took one vike, and the rest were mine. My behavior at the time was far from being a prospective husband or being social at all around anyone. I holed myself up in a motel with my meth and my pills and even took videos of myself “waxing eloquently” about the dangers of drugs which I posted on Vimeo. When the meth and the Vicodin ran out, I started huffing computer duster from morning until night and for some (maniacally high) reason decided to text one of the videos to my daughters the day before my birthday, explaining “this is why I’ve been a shitty father.”

They didn’t reply, I’m pretty certain they didn’t even watch the video. The next day, I did not get a happy birthday text or call from either daughter. I was coming down from being high for a couple months straight that day, and the comedown was only worse when it slowly dawned on me that I was a shitty father and it was about time I did something about it.

A little more than a year later, I received happy birthday texts from both daughters and a celebratory call from my oldest. I’ve stayed clean for almost 10 months now and continue to avoid any temptations that would get in the way of being the good father I have finally become.

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